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When Closir met Moscow

An IR technology company with the vision of connecting global investors to Russian companies shares their experience in Moscow.

Michael Chojnacki

The Closir team (Mike and Tim) has spent the best part of the last few months in Moscow, including during the infamous February freeze, but we've found both the temperature and the reception from Russian companies to be much warmer than expected. Despite recent outflows, Russia remains one of the largest emerging markets in the world and an integral part of most EM investment portfolios. As a young fintech company looking to use technology to connect Russian companies with global investors, we're keen to gain some insight into the current outlook and attitude of IROs in Russia, and their appetite to engage with new and existing investors.

Our trip in numbers:

  • 46 meetings with companies
  • 22 pancakes consumed during Maslenitsa
  • 14 meetings with advisors and investors
  • 11 days to fully understand how to use the Metro system
  • 1 conference panel appearance
  • 1 formal partnership

Our main objective has been to meet as many companies as possible in order to find out a little more about their current IR programmes and to assess the opportunity for a technology solution designed to help companies identify, analyse and connect with institutional investors globally. Having spent the last seven years covering Emerging Markets for The Bank of New York Mellon's Global Equities division, we found that a lot of investors simply aren't getting the attention they need from the sell side, and companies are missing out on huge opportunities for both capital and liquidity from an increasingly global investment community.

We were keen to see what Russian issuers made of this situation and of the economy as a whole. As such, perhaps the most valuable part of the last few months for us has been getting to know the companies and the people behind them better.

What we've learned so far...

....about Investor Relations in Russia

  • Investor Relations is well understood and respected in Russia and the level of the discussion is relatively high.
  • Present conditions are difficult for IROs with budgets being cut and reduced attention from international markets
  • Different companies see IR very differently, e.g. some IROs have their work cut out as management prefers not to disclose too much to the market, while IR is front and centre for many others
  • Former state-owned companies have a lot of individual shareholders who keep IROs busy!

...about Russian IR teams

  • Russian IROs are generous with their time and want to help find solutions
  • Russians are open-minded to new ideas and embrace technology, much more so than their Western counterparts
  • There are 2 main fears about technology in investor relations:
    • o Technology will make my job obsolete
    • o Technology = social media

  • There is a strong, cohesive community of IROs across Russia
  • Muscovites love meeting over a drink after work (but don't like early morning meetings)

...about the Russian economy

  • Opinion is divided about how long the crisis will last, the average guess is around 1 year
  • US investors in particular have turned their back on Russian equities; UK and European investors often have a more long term and “bottom-up” approach to analysing companies
  • There is a sense that when economic sanctions are lifted, things will turn around quickly

...about Moscow

  • There's no substitute for spending time on the ground in Moscow
  • Moscow is huge - our meetings spanned from Medvedkovo to Yugo-Zapadnaya metro stations
  • Moscow never sleeps and there's something for everyone
  • BB Cafe in Arbat does the best calamari in the city
  • Muscovites are patriotic but are very welcoming to foreigners and love a good political debate

Getting to know Moscow better both as a city and as a market has been extremely enjoyable and has helped us to shape Closir much more effectively around the needs of company IR teams. We look forward to spending a lot more time there as we prepare to launch Closir beta towards the end of June. Hopefully the Moscow summer will be as kind to us as the winter has been!

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